Gary Ballance provided just about the only highlight for England on a disappointing opening day for the tourists against a Cricket Australia Chairman’s XI at Alice Springs.
Having been embarrassed by Australia in the first Ashes Test, this was a chance for England’s batsmen to find some form ahead of the next examination at Adelaide.
However, Ballance was the only man to reach a half-century as England eventually declared on 212 for 7 in the two-day match. Their opponents reached stumps on 16 for 0 in reply.
|Australia Chairman's XI vs. England XI|
|England Innings 212-7d (78 ovs)|
|MA Carberry||c Harris b Lalor||6||30|
|JE Root||c Hill b Herrick||22||34|
|GS Ballance||run out (Muirhead)||55||134|
|MJ Prior||c †Cazzulino b Mackin||19||27|
|BA Stokes||c Harris b Keath||28||54|
|IR Bell||c Doran b Mackin||13||48|
|JM Bairstow||not out||31||77|
|GP Swann||c Hill b Muirhead||29||36|
|ST Finn||not out||5||29|
|Extras||(b 1, lb 2, nb 1)||4|
|Australia XI Innings 16-0 (10 ovs)|
|SJ Cazzulino†||not out||5||30|
|MS Harris||not out||10||30|
The focus is on Ballance following Jonathan Trott’s departure from the tour due to a stress-related illness. England need a new No. 3, and Ballance took his chance to stake a claim.
He reached 55 before a needless run out involving Ian Bell, displaying a level of patience and calm that is necessary given the Australians' aggressive approach to the Ashes series.
Unfortunately, few of his teammates supported him, with openers Michael Carberry and Joe Root gone with the score yet to pass 35. Root is a rival to Ballance for the No. 3 spot, but his cut to gully on 22 was less than impressive.
Ben Stokes, another considered to replace Trott, threatened to sparkle as he advanced to 28. However, he too got out just as his innings began to take shape.
Several of England’s experienced heads, including Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen, were missing.
Meanwhile, skipper Bell did pull on the pads, only to last 48 balls as he returned for just 13 runs.
Jonny Bairstow was the only other England batsman to impress, finishing unbeaten on 31, well supported by a knock of 29 by Graeme Swann.
Swann was then one of three bowlers—along with Boyd Rankin and Steven Finn—to have a quick go with the ball, but none made a breakthrough as their opponents closed on 16 for 0.